University of London
Common Law Reasoning and Institutions
Essay Title: ‘The approach of the Law Lords to statutory interpretation has been radically changed by the Human Rights Act. Judges now see themselves as legislating human rights through their interpretation of Acts of Parliament.’ Student Number:
In the Human Rights Act, judges are legislating human rights through their own way of interpretation of the Acts of Parliament. The Human Rights Act was introduced and implemented during Tony Blair’s time. This makes sure UK respects and obeys to the EU laws. Hence, economic burden and legal are lessen as there is no such need to go to the ECHR in Strausburg for cases of such issues. Statutory interpretation is a method or process used by the courts in a manner to interpret or discover laws that were passed down by Parliament. Due to the issue of separation of powers, judges are to interpret as they sees fit to do so within their role, so as to not having the judiciary interfering in their line of legislative functions. The common methods or general methods of interpretation were developed solely by the judges. The Parliament has no part or role in this matter. The Interpretation Act 1978 was introduced and passed down to ease the burden of enabling statutes to be drafted more conveniently, and mostly are the definitions of the common provisions. The first approach known as literal approach is meant by defining the words of the statute as ordinary and plain even though if it leads to absurdity in the case of Stock v Frank Jones. The literal interpretation was applied by the courts and they were not willing to read into the words of the statute. Judges might seek to look and search the dictionaries, law journals, and several other relevant materials to clarify the ambiguity of the words that were going to be used literally in the case. Thus, judges might consider adopting the approach of the Golden Rule to sway away from an absurd and unjust decision. In the Black Clawson case, Lord Reid said “We often say that we are looking for the intention of Parliament, but that is not quite accurate. We are seeking the meaning of the words which Parliament used.” The Golden Rule is an approach sometimes used by judges to move away from an absurd decision as this approach is special in a way that is gives words a different meaning from its original and ordinary meaning in order to prevent absurdity. The golden rule is also known as “a less explicit form of the mischief rule” as per the Law Commission report , due to the fact that it requires that words are to be interpreted in the light of their effect. However, it is to the judges to decide whether or not to adopt this approach as it is solely based on the literal rule and should only be adopted this approach when there is an ambiguity and absurdity that arises in the literal rule. Apart from it, there is another approach known as the mischief rule. Its work is to read statutes and uncover the mischief in order to correct them preventing unjust situations to arise in near future. In the case of Heydon, they questioned what were the common law before the making of the act, what was the mischief and defect that the common law did not provide, what remedy the Parliament has resolved to cure the defect, and the reason for the remedy. Statutes are to be interpreted in such a way in line as to give effect to its objectives. In Northam v London Borough Barnet, Lord Denning’s judgment said “the purposive approach promotes the general legislative purpose underlying the provisions”. English judges view mischief rule purposively so in a way they have always had recourse to the purposive interpretation. Referring to the Parliament’s intention in interpreting statutes is the flow in which the purposive approach works. Lord Nicholls said in his statement in Spath Holme: "...the 'intention of Parliament' is an objective concept, not...
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